Review of Not my Problem by Ciara Smyth, Audiobook narrated by Sarah Jane Drummey
After listening to Ciara Smyth’s debut The Falling in Love Montage, and absolutely loving it, this author got automatically in my to read/listen list. So when her new novel was released I jumped at the opportunity to listen to the audiobook.
Aideen is a 16-year-old with plenty of problems of her own but when she stumbles upon her nemesis Meabh Kowalski who is visibly distressed by her overwhelming schedule, she offers her assistance. Aideen just needs to push her down the stairs to give Meabh a sprained ankle and free her from some extracurricular activities. After the success of the scheme, other students start to ask Aideen for favours which will set out a series of ill-advised shenanigans and a chance at love. But will Aideen be able to solve her own problems?
This was another fantastic Young Adult novel by Ciara Smyth. As in her debut book, Ms. Smyth shows that she can write novels with equal measures of humour and depth. This book will make you laugh and cry with the same intensity. Your heart will go out to Aideen and Meabh’s struggles with their family issues while trying to navigate through the hardships of secondary school, friendships and love.
One of my favourite things about Ciara Smyth’s books is that they are set in Ireland which is a rarity as most lesbian fiction is set in the US. Not only that, but it really has an authentic Irish feel, starting with the unrepentant use of slang (such as craic, eejit, or deadly), followed by a deep immersion inside Irish culture, including its very peculiar sense of humor (Ms. Devlin, Aideen’s PE teacher, is a great example). Having lived in Ireland for more than a decade now, I love their politically incorrect sense of humour which Ms. Smyth expresses perfectly. The author also describes accurately the demands of Irish secondary school and issues of race and class in Ireland.
The complete cast of characters is very well fleshed out, from the leads to all the secondary ones. All of them sound authentic in their ages and have distinguishable personalities. Written in first person from the exclusive point of view of Aideen, the reader gets to see her struggles to overcome a difficult family situation in which she sometimes has to be the adult. This novel could have become a huge drama – and there are a few heartbreaking moments to support this – but luckily, these heavy moments are balanced out with hilarious situations.
I’ve listened to the audiobook narrated by Sarah Jane Drummey who is an Irish actress. She not only did the Irish accents very well (obviously) but also the Indian and Scottish accents too. The different characters’ voices are distinctive enough and her performance of the different emotions in the story is very convincing. Her narration made for a very enjoyable listening experience. 5 stars.
Length: 9 hours, 38 minutes